Monday, July 12, 2010

Damaging Your Brand

The talk of the basketball world the last week has been LeBron James’ decision to go to Miami to play with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosch. Recently I was listening to ESPN Radio and Mike Greenberg mentioned that he thought LeBron hadn’t necessarily done his “brand” any damage.

Certainly LeBron James is more in demand, and has more power than most people in their jobs.. I might argue that someone like a Paul Randal in the SQL Server database world would be as in as much demand, and like LeBron, if he wanted a job with a particular company, he might take a pay cut.

Our brand is the impression people have of us. It’s the first impression, and maybe the only impression, that most people get of you. Relatively few people that have heard of you will meet you. Or hire you. A good brand is important to giving you a wide variety of opportunities. When your name comes up or your resume arrives in someone’s inbox, the brand that appears in someone’s mind first can determine if you even get a call for an interview.

A bad brand can hurt you, and you might never know about it. You’ll never hear about the jobs you didn’t get because of a poor brand.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t rebuild a brand, or that you can’t get by with a bad brand. Arguably there have been famous people, Rush Limbaugh, Howard Stern, that have bad brands. Or bad to a large group of people, but they have still done well. Those are extreme, but I know there are people that have been fired from jobs for doing damage to the company and re-hired later in the industry by working to rebuild their brands.

Kobe Bryant arguable had destroyed his brand a few years ago with issues in CO. There are still people in CO that “boo” him when he comes, and still a few advertisers that don’t work with him. However he’s come back as a very popular player, he’s had success, and has new endorsements. He’s kept a lower profile in some ways and rebuilt his brand.

LeBron can do that as well. I’d argue the last two years, without winning, having less success, and not responding in clutch situations have damaged his brand. While he was popular and lots of teams coveted his services, I would argue that his “brand” was what most teams wanted, not his talent. He hasn’t proven he’s a champion, a go-to guy, and the success he’s brought the Cleveland Cavaliers has been mostly off the court, with more revenue for the owner, than pride for the fans.

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